AMGEN
BMS-center-logo
 

By Debbie Gregory.

Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan believes that increased communication with defense contractors is a step in the right direction in order to optimize the Pentagon’s relationships with industry. The Defense Department’s No. 2 civilian, Shanahan manages the Pentagon and oversees the acquisition and budget efforts.

In a March 2 memorandum entitled “Engaging With Industry” Shanahan wrote: “Conducting effective, responsible and efficient procurement of supplies and services while properly managing the resultant contracts requires department personnel to engage in early, frequent and clear communications with suppliers.”

As the Trump administration sought to deepen relations between private industry and government, last April Defense Secretary Jim Mattis encouraged expanded Pentagon-industry relations.

The push for more Pentagon-industry communications comes after other top leaders have ordered restrictions on talking with the public and the press. Most recently, on March 1, U.S. Air Force leaders suspended all interviews, embeds, and base visits for media organizations “until further notice.”

Prior to that, in March 2017, the Chief of Naval Operations cautioned his people to be more careful in what they say in public, saying that he did not want to give adversaries useful information.

“Industry is often the best source of information concerning market conditions and technological capabilities,” Shanahan wrote. “This information is crucial to determining whether and how the industry can support the Department’s mission and goals.”

Shanahan believes that complying with ethical and legal limits “should not” cause defense and service officials to be reluctant to engage industry.

“The department’s policy continues to be that representatives at all levels of the department have frequent, fair, even and with industry on matters of mutual interest, as appropriate, in a manner that protects sensitive information, operations, sources, methods and technologies,” Shanahan wrote.

By Debbie Gregory.

Faced with criticism over how it awarded a contract to move computer systems to the Internet cloud, the Pentagon has slashed a nearly $1 billion contract down to no more than $65 million, while also scaling back the scope of the work. The revision will limit its use to only U.S. Transportation Command rather than the entire Defense Department.

The contract awarded to Herndon, Virginia-based REAN Cloud—an Amazon Web Services partner, has come under scrutiny by those who feel that the procurement wasn’t handled properly, charges that Pentagon officials strongly denied.

Pentagon spokesman Col. Robert Manning said that after reviewing the contract, the Defense Department decided that “the agreement should be more narrowly tailored” so that Rean would build a prototype service for a single agency, the U.S. Transportation Command, instead of many agencies within the military.

Oracle filed a bid protest with the Government Accountability Office last month that called the procurement “an egregious abuse” of the procurement process for a contract that it charged was “shrouded in secrecy.”

Additionally, the Pentagon was criticized because the original contract was awarded by the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx ) which was created to procure the technology of Silicon Valley-type companies that mostly shy away from Pentagon work. DIUx is fast-moving to provide non-dilutive capital to companies to solve national defense problems, usually in under 90 days.

The procurement, a follow-on to a smaller competed contract, was awarded under an “other transaction authority,” a way for the Pentagon to procure goods and services quickly without being subject to the bureaucratic federal acquisitions process.

Critics of the “other transaction authority” process say such arrangements are not competitive and insufficiently transparent.

ibmpos_blurgb